The latest “oh noes, Melky can’t win the batting title!” column

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The argument that Melky Cabrera should not be allowed to win the 2012 batting title because of his drug suspension was dumb a couple of weeks ago and it’s dumb again today. From Morosi:

The batting race, though, is one instance in which MLB must act — and it doesn’t need to be that complicated.

MLB should add an additional criterion for the batting and ERA titles: Players suspended for a PED offense must be automatically disqualified, because their violations gave them an unfair statistical advantage, on top of the obvious cheating … MLB can’t allow players to benefit statistically by stopping the clock on their season through PED use. That’s like a high-school student receiving an “A” on a test he missed because he was suspended for fighting in the cafeteria.

Setting aside the fact that many, many hitters have won batting titles despite having the advantage of a shorter season, Morosi falls far short of making a compelling case here. Sure, he talks about all the ways baseball could deal with the Melky problem — it would be easy to disqualify him, I’ll grant that —  but he never makes a case as to why baseball, or any of us, should care if Melky Caberea wins the batting title in the first place.

As Matthew noted a couple of weeks ago, the batting title isn’t an an award. It is not some endorsement by the league or an honor bestowed on a worthy competitor. It is a statistical measure and nothing more. It is a function of math, and it only matters to people in direct proportion to the weight they place in it.

And it’s certainly not significant like an MVP award. Quick: name two of the past ten NL batting champions. I bet you can’t. Because, sadly, winning a batting title did not place Freddy Sanchez into some Hall of Immortals atop a great mountain someplace. It just happened and why in the hell should any of us who are not related to Mr. Sanchez care?

Same goes for Melky. If he wins the batting title, it will be remembered only because of its dubiousness. The world will not end. It will not impact the economy or the schools and it will not send any child off into a life of crime. It would affect nothing other than the level of indignation people who like to be indignant about such things feel.

As I said last month, the idea of stripping people of awards and attempting top scrub history is nothing more than emotion-driven post-hoc righteous reactionary retribution. If you want to change the rule going forward and make a guy ineligible to be the batting champ or home run champ or whatever after a suspension, fine, do it. That’s how laws and rules work: prospectively.  But suddenly saying “Melky can’t be the batting champ!” is a silly emotional balm for people who should know better than to put that much damn weight into a statistical contest.

Matthew Stafford audibles with “Kershaw! Kershaw!”

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Last night the Detroit Lions played the New York Giants. During the game Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford called an audible. The call itself referenced Stafford’s childhood friend and high school baseball teammate, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. From the Freep:

Matthew Stafford stepped to the line of scrimmage late in the third quarter and surveyed the Giants defense.

With five pass rushers across the front and three Giants cornerbacks showing a press-man look, Stafford looked at his two receivers to the left and invoked the name of his childhood friend, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

“Give me Kershaw here, Kershaw,” Stafford said, repeating his friend’s name two more times as he spun around at the line of scrimmage.

The audible did not result in a pick-4 to Aaron Altherr. It called for a run up the middle. And it worked nicely, gaining eight yards.

You may suggest the results of other starting pitcher-themed audibles in the comments. I’ll start: “Harvey! Harvey!” is where the QB fakes a handoff, drops back, looks deep and then his arm falls completely off. Damndest thing.

Matt Harvey has a 13.19 ERA since coming back from the disabled list

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Matt Harvey‘s season was mostly a loss due to extended time on the disabled list. He’s been given a chance, however, to end the season strong and make a case for himself in the Mets’ future plans. Unfortunately, he has been unable to make that case. He was shelled again last night, and his late season opportunity has been a disaster.

Last night Harvey gave up seven runs on 12 hits and struck out only two batters in four innings against a Marlins team that, until facing him anyway, had been reeling. It was his fourth start since going on the shelf in mid-June and in those four starts he’s allowed 21 runs, all earned, on 32 hits in 14.2 innings, for an ERA of 13.19. In that time he’s struck out only eight batters while walking seven. His average fastball velocity, while ticking up slightly in each of his past four starts, is still below 95. Back when he was an ace he was consistently above that. His command has been terrible.

Injury is clearly the culprit. He had Tommy John surgery just as he was reaching his maximum level of dominance in 2013. While he came back strong in 2015, he was used pretty heavily for a guy with a brand new ligament. Last year he was felled by thoracic outlet syndrome and this year a stress injury to his shoulder. Any one of those ailments have ended pitchers’ careers and even among those who bounce back from them, many are diminished. To go through all three and remain dominant is practically unheard of.

Yet this is where Matt Harvey is. He’s 28. He’s still arbitration eligible, for a team that is, to put it politely, sensitive to large financial outlays. While his 4-5 start opportunity to end the year may very well have been seen as a chance to shop Harvey to another team, his trade value is at an all-time low. It would not be shocking if, on the basis of his recent ineffectiveness, the Mets considered non-tendering him this offseason, making him a free agent.

Someone would probably take a chance on him because famous names who once showed tremendous promise are often given multiple chances in the big leagues (See, Willis, Dontrelle). But at the moment, there is nothing in Harvey’s game to suggest that he is capable of taking advantage of such a chance. All one can hope is that an offseason of rest and conditioning will allow Harvey to reclaim at least a portion of his old form.